We tend to think of colour photography as being a postwar sort of invention — no doubt due to its association with Kodacolor photographic film, invented in 1942.

But in fact colour photography is much older than this. Early versions used three or more separate exposures, with different colour filters, which were combined into a final version at development time.

One of the most stunning collections of this sort of photography is Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii's photos of pre-Soviet Russia from 1909–1912. The quality of photography and richness of colour make it almost impossible to believe that they were from an entire century ago. The three-hued appearance of flowing water (and the occasional unwary background subject) shows how it was put together from separate Cyan/Magenta/Yellow exposures.

But even older forms of colour photography can be found. Examples from 1906 and 1890 show the "Photocrom" method of pseudo-colour photography. James Clark Maxwell produced a test image as far back as 1855, and Levi Hill's 1851 "Hillotypes" even show some basic colouration — although he fraudulently added extra colours after development!

Edit: Calvin's Dad, as usual, has a different story.
gominokouhai: (Default)

From: [personal profile] gominokouhai


Not seen the Photochrom ones beforeL: lovely. Thank you.
leynos: (Default)

From: [personal profile] leynos


Those are quite amazing. I'd seen three colour process photography before, but it always seemed more of a novelty than anything else. These photos on the other hand are like stepping into a distant long forgotten world.
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